Setting a director to make The Hunger Games sequel Catching Fire turned out to be a little more complicated for Lionsgate than was originally expected. While Gary Ross was first thought to be fully set to reprise his directorial duties after making the smash first film, he moved on to other jobs. After casting about for follow-up options, Lionsgate made an offer to I Am Legend, Constantine and Water For Elephants director Francis Lawrence.

Today Lawrence has signed to make Catching Fire. The film will start shooting in the fall, and “Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth will reprise their roles as Katniss, Peeta and Gale, with Lenny Kravitz, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Toby Jones, and Woody Harrelson also returning to their respective roles.” The release date remains November 22, 2013.

Read the full press release below. Read More »

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Music, release dates, expanded roles, clips and interviews. It’s all in this edition of Sequel Bits. After the jump read about:

  • Pitbull, not Will Smith, will be doing the theme song to Men in Black III. A nation weeps.
  • Liam Hemsworth talks about how his expanded role in The Hunger Games sequel, Catching Fire, didn’t change this performance plus Expendables 2.
  • A new clip has been released from Wrath of the Titans featuring Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes.
  • Kermit the Frog and Walter discuss Jason Segel‘s departure from The Muppets 2.
  • Warner Bros. gives official Summer 2013 release dates to The Hangover Part III and 300: Battle of Artemisia.

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After months — really years — of waiting, The Hunger Games are almost here. And with positive early buzz (including Germain’s glowing review) just adding to the hype, the Lionsgate marketing machine is heading into the final push with yet another Hunger Games clip. Following a previously released scene which saw Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) making his very public move on Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence), the new clip explores the bond between longtime pals Katniss and Gale (Liam Hemsworth) as they say their farewells before she heads into the Games. Watch it after the jump.

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After trying her hand at comedy, horror, romance, family film, and drama, Emma Roberts is now moving into the thriller genre with Dito Montiel‘s Empire State. Based on a real-life heist, Adam Mazer‘s screenplay centers around a pair of longtime pals in Astoria, NY who devise a plan to rob an armored car. Liam Hemsworth is one of the friends; the other has not been cast. Dwayne Johnson is also set to star, as an NYPD detective on the case, while Roberts will play a waitress, the requisite love interest role for Hemsworth.

Roberts, who recently appeared in the Sundance dramedy Celeste and Jesse Forever, is currently shooting the indie comedy Adult World with John Cusack. Empire State will enter production this spring. [Variety]

After the jump, a current Bond girl becomes an influential world leader.

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Of course that last The Hunger Games poster wasn’t really the final one, no matter what the marketing folks claimed. But I’m not complaining. Two more banners have just dropped, promoting the film’s recently announced IMAX run. One is very much in line with the earlier poster, showing Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) taking aim with her trademark bow and arrow, while the other shows a uniformed Katniss in her training gear. In addition, we have a dozen new character photos of Haymitch (Woody Harrelson), Effie (Elizabeth Banks), Caesar (Stanley Tucci), and more, fresh from the official website. Check ‘em out after the jump.

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With just 50 days left until Gary RossThe Hunger Games hits theaters, Lionsgate has released a thrilling new trailer that delves a little deeper into Katniss’ (Jennifer Lawrence) relationship with her sister Prim (Willow Shields) and, therefore, her reason for competing in the Games. The more love triangle-y aspects involving Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) take a backseat this time around, which is just fine by me.

But that’s not all — if you like what you see, you may also be interested to hear the news we have about the film’s opening. Yahoo! Movies and other websites are giving away the opportunity to attend The Hunger Games‘ world premiere in Los Angeles on Monday, March 12. Meanwhile, the less lucky among us may have better luck snapping up tickets for just-announced IMAX screenings of the film, which begin March 23. Check out the details and watch the new trailer after the jump.

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Two of the most in-demand action stars working right now may be on the verge of teaming up. Liam Hemsworth and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson are close to signing on for Dito Montiel‘s Empire State, with the former on the verge of closing a deal and the latter in negotiations. The film sounds more or less like what you might expect from a collaboration between Hemsworth and Johnson: It’s an indie heist movie involving an armored car robbery. More details after the jump.

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Here’s a pretty rote teaser trailer for Affliction: The Motion Picture… er, The Expendables 2, which puts Sylvester Stallone and Jason Statham back at the forefront of an action extravaganza that also stars Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris, Liam Hemsworth, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Check it out below if you want to see all those faces for a second or two each. Read More »

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